New tool aims to boost universities' flagging green efforts

Scorecard could help institutions improve green credentials after damning report warned universities had fallen behind on carbon reduction targets

May 12, 2016
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Sustainability: estates directors have had to balance the ‘competing agendas’ of capital growth and carbon reduction, said Trevor Humphreys of AUDE

The representative body for university estates has launched a comprehensive tool to help UK higher education institutions measure their environmental efforts, set targets and benchmark against each other.

The Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) green scorecard, said to be the first of its kind, has been developed in conjunction with the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), and will focus on topics including energy, transport, water, waste, biodiversity and landscape. It will allow the production of online reports on these subjects to help universities improve their estates and environmental sustainability strategies.

It follows a difficult time for universities’ sustainability efforts, after last year’s highly critical report by consultancy Brite Green showed that English higher education institutions had fallen further behind in their carbon reduction objectives in relation to the 2020 sector target set out by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Trevor Humphreys, chair of AUDE, said that directors of estates were “heavily involved” and committed to the “university sustainability agenda”.

But he added that the “challenge to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption over the past 10 years has been set against significant sector capital investment and growth. Directors have had to balance these two often competing agendas.”

Keith Lilley, director of estates and facilities management at the University of Sheffield, agreed that although many in the sector were “leading the way in sustainability”, some higher education institutions need “to improve and need more support”.

“Last year’s Brite Green report highlighted this,” he said. “The scorecard should provide all universities with transparent and flexible reporting to show where they are meeting their sustainability goals and where there is more work to be done. We are hoping that universities will want to share their data to help benchmark, showcase best practice and as a sector work together to help create a more sustainable future.”

Iain Patton, chief executive at EAUC, said the aim was for the scorecard to provide universities with “assurance about the significant environmental progress that many universities have made” and the “impetus to do more”.

The toolkit, which will be reviewed on an annual basis in order to keep the data set properly focused on the work of constituent universities, was the result of a consultation process involving 150 AUDE and EAUC members across the UK.

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